After chasing the sun along the Cedar River south of Hwy 30 between Cedar Rapids and Mount Vernon, I was driving home and noticed this break in the trees with the valley and fog creeping in ever so slowly. It was getting dark, so I had to work quickly. I walked out into the field just enough to get a sense of what was going on and where a good perspective might be.
After setting up the tripod and getting a few test shots, I started to really focus on the fog and different colors of the sunset. I was really hoping for the sunset light to brush the fog, but alas, the sun was going to sleep, so the fog was just FOG!
I decided this might be a good HDR shot, so bracketed 3 shots (-2 EV, 0, +2 EV). The sky was so bright compared to the lower valley, it would have been very difficult to get the exposure right without the help of HDR or some post-processing. However, there are photographers out there that could probably pull it off - but I'm not one of them yet!
During processing, I didn't like the way the HDR process over-saturated the sky and gave the foreground an artificial look. So using Photoshop CS5, I decided to load all three images up and use layer masking to bring out the best part of each exposure. The sky is mostly from the underexposed photo, while the foreground is from the normally exposed photo, and the fog has touches of the overexposed photo to bring out the whiteness.
It was fun processing and playing with the possibilities since the original images were good enough to manipulate. Sometimes sunset shots become too this or that and aren't useful for much of anything, but in this case I got lucky!
Hope you enjoy this photo of an open field and gentle valley in Eastern Iowa. It was fun being there!